Monday, June 29, 2009

After Fiesta Thoughts

We had a grand celebration of our parish fiesta this year. I described it grand not just because of the activities that were done but also, though a bit subjective, because of some remarkable things that I noticed.

Our parish priest, Fr. Joseph Buslon, really worked hard to convince people and some local officials to support the renovation of our church which included partial replacement and repainting of the ceiling, painting of the inner walls, and improvements on the lighting. Granite tiles were also laid on the walls behind the altarpiece. Four beautiful chandeliers were installed. All of these were completed before the Fiesta. But the most important and special addition/renovation done was the "replacement" of the damaged stained glass icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help which was installed earlier than we expected. It came with two other stained glasses for the windows beside the Perpetual Help.

Although I still prefer the original icon that was more Byzantine than the new one, I am still happy that at last, after years of prayers, the icon was replaced!

Our parish secretary, Ate Angie, told us that the icon was a donation from our congressman Oscar Malapitan who was the Hermano Mayor for this year's fiesta. Well, thank you Mr. Congressman!

With this year's theme, parishioners are called to journey together towards unity - something that was lost for years, with Mary as our companion and guide.

As I have said in one of my previous posts, The icon has been a witness and a sign of what is happening within our community. The damage served as a reminder of the problems that really existed. The icon being replaced entirely is a sign that something within us has to be "replaced" too.

The road to unity is never easy and is never near yet, especially when the wounds caused by the division left a permanent scar. People still manifest their hatred against each other. Some in hidden and some in obvious ways. Unless we learn to accept that there are things we should "replace" within ourselves, take away our old self, and "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" there can never be unity among us.

I believe that this journey to unity will be a journey of a lifetime. But with God, and Mary on our side, the journey must begin now.

And beyond all these things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3.14

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Did you know?

That the honor of conducting the first Perpetual Novena in the Philippines goes, not to Baclaran, but to the Iloilo community, in May, 1946 in the Redemptorist Church of St. Clement.

This is according to the Website of the well-loved and famous National Shrine of our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran.

I have added to this blog some links that would bring you to sites about the Mother of Perpetual Help. If you click the icon at the right side of my blog, just below my photo, you will be directed to the website of the Redemptorist Fathers (their General Province), who were the ones responsible in propagating the devotion to Mary, the Mother of Perpetual Help. Likewise, in My Catholic Links, there are also some useful links that I have provided about the same topic with special attention to the site of the National Shrine of our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, Philippines the site from which I got this trivia. Hope that this blog may help you be informed. Enjoy reading and spread the word.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Come 28th of June, our parish will celebrate our 11th Feast Day, with Mary, the Mother of Perpetual Help being our patroness. This year's theme is "
Maria, Kalakbay, Kaagapay at Gabay tungo sa pagkakaisa" (Journey to Unity alongside Mary, our Companion and Guide)

You could imagine how everything and everyone are being accomplished in a hurry. Aside from our altar being refurnished, with granite tiles laid on its wall set to be finished before Sunday, all ministries are busy coming up with their own presentations for an inter-ministry competition as part of the festivities.

The Ministry of Altar Servers, headed by a good friend, the ever feisty kuya Darwin, is so sure about winning the competition while I, their adversary, is trying everything to demotivate and discourage them, so that our own youth ministry would win. Sounds so unChristian, no?

Anyway, I am so excited to see the new stained glass icon of the Mother of Perpetual Help courtesy of our Congressman Oscar Malapitan, which will replace the original stained glass that was already damaged. At least, one of our longtime prayers was answered. I remembered that we started to notice the damage sometime in 2004 during the time of a former parish priest. A small crack appeared on the face of Mary, which I believed hit by a stone, perhaps accidentally by some mischievous kids. During that time, a "damage" within our church also emerged until it grew bigger even after that priest left. A problem within the parishioners and in their relationships with each other occurred: there appeared for the first time, a great division among us. The division was a clear line between a group (ministry) headed by a particular nun and another group (ministries) which is comprised of many marginalized ministries at that time. I was not spared of this trouble. We were actually one of the casualties.

About 2007, when a new parish priest was installed, I noticed that the damaged in the icon has gone even bigger. I personally brought this to the attention of our parish priest then, but because he has other things for priority as a project, especially the livelihood of the people, the repair of the stained glass was for a time taken for granted. During that time, the division between us parishioners has gone worse. There were already two factions, one for the priest (the marginalized who somehow felt vindicated with the arrival of a new parish priest who never tolerated that reign of this nun) and another (that particular ministry) for the nun who used to be a powerful figure during the time of the prior parish priest.

Eventually, the faction went worst. The nun-headed ministry was not so pleased about the emergence of the marginalized people in the limelight of parish life, while they are being "chastised" for what seemed to be arrogance on their part, they did everything to depose our poor priest. They went to the bishop and made every possible slanders against him. Expectedly, the other group (marginalized) reacted, for they felt that the priest they hold dear is being attacked. This problem reached its peak when one day, the nun-headed group succeeded in their rallies against the priest marked by betrayal, slanders and hatred, and the marginalized group heared that the bishop has decided to act. Rumors has it, that the bishop would soon transfer this priest. The marginalized group felt betrayed, and wanted to do everything to save the priest, to the extent of even rallying to the bishop's house and office for a dialogue, all in a peaceful means. But fate proved otherwise.

The bishop in his prudence, believing that the priest failed to unite the parishioners by condoning the existence of two "warring" factions, decided to transfer that priest -- and ordered that nun to leave the parish as well.

At first that decision was bitterly taken by the marginalized group. They were asking why the priest was not spared when in the first place, it is the priest who is needed in the parish and not the nun. The other group, the nun-headed, appeared so pleased because they thought that the nun was just "asked" by the bishop to stay away from the parish for a month, and they believed that the nun shall come back soon after that period. And so they thought.

For one who has not seen it all, it may be so unfortunate and saddening to think that this kind of conflict is happening in a church, involving priests and nuns themselves, when they should be models of unity and love among other values they should possess. But the truth is that, even within the church, the devil really operates. He can influence even people we think should be immune from his ploys. In this case, one would be tempted to think that the poor nun was used by the devil to sow the seeds of division, attack a priest, and attack the community of God in us.

To think that this nun used to be so powerful she seemed impervious that not even a priest could tame her, and she was even able to get rid of the priest in order to get what she wanted is the most convincing fact that she was unfortunately used to mock the people of God.

But then, God is really good. He allowed that poor priest to be a "sacrificial lamb" in order for this nun to be taken away from his flock and therefore keep her from harming them more. He took that priest, so that he could take the nun, and save them both from spiritual ruin caused by the devil himself. Somehow, that decision by the bishop, which was took as an act of betrayal by some people including me, was actually, God's blessed decision in disguise.

Now, a new parish priest was installed, and he has been with us for about half a year already. New signs of hope is emerging. It seems that the division will be healed, not momentarily though, but in due time. This priest, albeit young and newly ordained, has a strong personality that he does not seem to be easily swayed by other peoples' influence. And so we pray.

As I have noted earlier, I am excited to see the new stained glass icon due to be installed on Thursday that will replace the damaged icon and which seemed a "portent" of sad events that happened in the past few years. Yes, I believe, Mary, wanted to say something to us, when that cracks appeared and grew bigger. Now, the stained glass is to be replaced. May this be a sign of the good things to come, may this tell us of the start of true healing and unity. May this event truly a start of turning back to God so that he may heal our land.

I think our theme really said it all,
Journey to Unity alongside Mary, our Companion and Guide.

To Jesus Through Mary, the Mother of Perpetual Help.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Meron palang Image si Mary bilang Our Lady of the Philippines?!

from McNamara's Blog

Treasures from the Treasure Chest

Although May is over, there are a few really beautiful depictions of Mary that I would like to feature on our Thursday Treasure Chest entry. This image depicts Our Lady of the Philippines.
I am posting some humorous stories that I received via SMS over the last few days from my brother Hunter, and some I read from the internet.

Most Feared Animal

A bear, a lion, and a pig were talking and bragging about themselves on who among them is most feared. The bear said, "I roar and the forest trembles!". The lion, trying to discount what the bear thinks of himself said, "I roar and the jungle shakes!"

The pig with his most sarcastic smile said, "Naah! I just cough, and the world panics!"

Incestuous Marriage

A couple was arguing when the wife said to his husband, "You know what, I should have married a demon instead of you!" The husband replied, "Oh, I am so sorry you're not allowed to marry a relative."

Mga Dahilan kung Bakit hindi ka Dapat makipagtalo sa isang Bata:

1. May isang teacher ang nagtuturo tungkol sa balyena at nagsabing imposibleng makalunok ang isang balyena ng tao dahil sa maliit ang lalamunan nito kahit pa malaki siya. May isang batang babae ang nagsabi, "E, teacher si Jonas po sa Bible, di ba nilunok ng balyena?" Medyo nairita and teacher at inulit ang kanyang sinabing imposibleng mangyari iyon. Sumagot uli ang bata, "Pag napunta na ako sa heaven, tatanungin ko si Jonas kung totoo nga yun." Nagtanong ang teacher sa bata, " E paano kung sa hell napunta si Jonas?" Sumagot ang bibong bata, " E di kayo na po ang magtanong!"

2. Katatapos lang magpakuha ng class picture kaya hinikayat ng teacher ang kanyang mga estudyante na magbayad para bumili ng kopya ng litrato. Sabi niya: "Isipin niyo na lang kung gaano kasarap na pag tumanda kayo at nakita ninyo ang mga litrato ninyo ngayon, sasabihin niyo siguro, 'Uy si Jenifer, abogado na yan!' o kaya, 'Uy si Mark, doktor na' o kaya naman, 'Uy si Alan, nasa amerika na'." May isang estudyante naman ang sumingit at nagsabi: "Tapos sa inyo po sasabihin namin, 'Uy si Mam, patay na yan!

3. Minsan pinagmamasdan ng isang bata ang kanyang nanay na naghuhugas ng plato nang mapansin niya ang ilang puting buhok ng kanyang nanay. Tinanong niya ang ina, "Nay, bakit po may puting buhok na kayo?" Sumagot ang nanay, "Kapag kasi makulit ka at binibigyan mo ako ng sakit ng ulo, tinutubuan ako ng puting buhok." Tila naunawaan ng bata ang sinabi ng ina kaya sinabi niya, "Ahh, kaya pala si lola puti na lahat ng buhok."

The Deacon's Bench: Relic of St. Therese stolen in Toronto

The Deacon's Bench: Relic of St. Therese stolen in Toronto

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Relic of St. Therese stolen in Toronto

A bizarre and sad bit of news out of Canada:
A Catholic Church in Toronto is hoping for a miracle — that the thief who stole a saint's relic will have a change of heart and return the holy object.

The relic of St. Therese of Lisieux, patron saint of missions, is a small piece of her body — about the size of a quarter — which could have easily fit in the pocket of the thief.

Jane Fleming, spokeswoman for St. Michael's Catholic Church, said the thief may have pretended to be praying at the saint's shrine while he or she removed the relic's Plexiglas cover and stole it between services on Sunday.

"Because the church is open every day, all day, we have lots of people who come in and they kneel at the statue and say prayers," she said Wednesday. "Some will put their hand up to touch the statue at the same time, so you can't really see what they're doing."

"If someone took on that posture, we would never go over and ask them to move along," she added.

While the thief got away with the relic — estimated to be worth between $3,000 and $5,000 — he or she left behind the small, silver broach-like piece that had contained it.

The thief also didn't get the relic's Vatican-issued certificate of authenticity, which is kept in an office in the church, so Fleming doesn't know how the thief will be able to prove the relic's worth to prospective buyers.

"I don't think a pawnshop would understand what it is and want to buy it," she said. "It's not like taking a solid gold chalice."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

From "The Pilgrim's Theme"
Bukas Palad Music Ministry

I think I'll follow the voice that calls within
Dance to the silent song it sings
I hope to find my place
So my life can fall in place
I know in time I'll find my place
In the greater scheme of things

Each must go his way, but how can I decide
Which path I should take, who will be my guide
I need some kind of star to lead me somewhere far
To find a higher dream in the greater scheme of things

The road before me bends, I don't know what I'll find
Will I meet a friend or ghosts I left behind
Should I even be surprised that You're with me in disguise
For it's Your hand I have s een in the greater scheme of things

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

When I was a child, I dreamed of becoming a priest.

There was something within me that makes me attracted to their vestments. I wanted to become a priest because I wanted to wear cassocks, and stoles, and preach a sermon. I was so allured of becoming one, thinking that the priesthood means nothing more than the vestment.

For some five years, I was an altar boy. Those were the years I consider as part of my formative years to Christian maturity. I was so deeply involved in parish life that the church almost literally became my home. I took the time to learn more about my church and my faith.

One of the most important contribution of my involvement with this ministry is our motto: "Called to Serve", which I got a chance to find for a Latin translation when I happened to read from an obscure paper an article written by an unknown seminarian (actually I don't remember whether he is a seminarian or a priest already at the time of that reading). "Vocatus Servire" was the Latin equivalent of our motto, I told our Sacristan Mayor.

And so what, if that is the Latin translation? Wala lang!

I don't know what is there in Latin that I feel like I am 80% intelligent when I can understand and use some of it.

I must admit that perhaps, like any other people in the church, I was afflicted of this
virus I would call HtTa ("holier-than-thou attitude") which is possibly deadlier than the H1N1 out there. I thought we people who are in the church, especially those who serve the mass, are somewhat a little bit special, apart from the rest of the faithful. So I thought, my being in the church, my being an altar boy, is a calling, an exclusive calling though. A calling that would expire however soon as I leave the ministry or the parish.

Then came reality.

So many things happened to me in the parish. So many that this page would not be enough if I insist writing them. Thing is, I experienced life, or rather real life, in all its faces. All the good and bad. And so, I think, I became mature in the faith.

This life-chapter has made me understand Catholic life better, and including what priesthood really is. I realized, priesthood is more than wearing the alb, chasuble and stole.

Some years ago, when writing about my "calling" and realizing that despite the "feeling-of-being-called" since childhood I am not for the priesthood, I wrote in my journal
, "I may never be God's priest tomorrow, but I can always be his servant today". I wrote this entry at a time I was insisting to a friend (who thought I was a geek) that I really feel God is calling me to serve Him in some ways.

I hope that by living my ordinary life everyday, I am
really serving God in "some ways".

Besides, are we not priests by our own right? When we were baptized, we shared in the priestly ministry of Christ, which is our common priesthood. Di ba?

I intend to keep this blog as long as I have access to the internet, which for now is free. It is a blog of and for ordinary Filipino Catholics. Please feel free to comment and join me in this virtual journey.


American Papist: Not Your Average Catholic!

Hello Friends,
Check these Videos of Catholic Spoofs. So Clever and Funny!
Just click this link!

American Papist: Not Your Average Catholic!

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Vocatus Servire.

Called to Serve.